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Pharma firms urged to refuse US capital punishment drug

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An execution room in the US state of Texas. Photo: DPA
10:21 CET+01:00
Doctors are backing a call by Health Minister Philipp Rösler for German drug firms to refuse to supply a key agent used in lethal injection executions to the United States.

The barbiturate anaesthetic sodium thiopental is used in – among other things – the cocktail of drugs given to inmates sentenced to death. The US will soon stop manufacturing the agent, meaning it will be forced to buy its sodium thiopental from other countries.

Rösler has called on the pharmaceutical industry not to supply drugs that include sodium thiopental – also known under the trade name Sodium Pentothal – to the US.

On Monday he received the support of the German Medical Association (BÄK).

“The German pharmaceutical industry can demonstrate that they trade ethically, if they join in here,” Frank Ulrich Montgomery, BÄK vice president, told the Passauer Neue Presse.

Daily Süddeutsche Zeitung recently reported that Rösler wrote to the drug industry asking them to ignore requests from the United States for supplies of the barbiturate.

“As far as your firm markets medical products containing sodium thiopental, I would like to ask you urgently not to meet such requests for supply,” Rösler wrote.

Montgomery described Rösler's initiative as “a great idea.”

Sodium thiopental is included in drug mixture used in 35 US states in lethal injections to execute prisoners.

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Sodium thiopental also has more mainstream uses as a general anaesthetic.

The American Medical Association has also decided not to co-operate with death sentence punishments.

DPA/The Local/djw

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